Ed Brinkman

September 14, 2006

The style used by Topps in 1975 often seemed to produce cards that were off-center, the bordering almost always thicker on one side than the other, as if the process of making the cards was not standardized and mechanized at all but instead one that relied on the judgment and dexterity of a 19-year-old Coast Guard dropout named Smitty who just spent his break smoking a joint out by the dumpster. In general, the mistakes riddling the 1975 set made the universe captured by the cards seem to my seven-year-old self to be homely, disheveled, approachable, as if my personal Mount Olympus was barely less tangible than a bake sale advertised by a mimeographed page tacked to a bulletin board at the Price Chopper. The off-balance layout is apparent in this card, which further lessens the feeling of distance between the viewer and the realm of major league baseball by presenting a figure who seems to have called in sick to his job as an instructor of remedial math and driver’s ed at the vocational high school to sneak onto the grounds of the Detroit Tigers’ training complex. The distance lessens further still with the discovery that this bespectacled ectomorph turns out not to be an imposter at all but a starting major league shortstop; moreover, he has been a starting major league shortstop for well over a decade. He even has his own crudely personalized bat, which he presumably used in the just-concluded season to launch 14 home runs, his career high. I have to go right now if I’m going to catch the commuter train that drags me to my job proofreading educational testing materials; otherwise, I might be tempted to engage in the vice of making nostalgic claims, such as that the world seemed wider back in the days when Ed Brinkman was possible.


  1. 1.  I have but one distinct memory of Ed Brinkman, and it is totally inconsistent with the grim and mildly terrifying visage shown above. Why this would stay in my memory banks for over 30 years is beyond me, but childhood memories can be random and arbitrary, often frustratingly so.

    I am 7 years old. I am watching the player introductions for the 1973 All-Star game. Ed Brinkman is announced. He trots out to his spot along the baseline, grins for the tv camera and FLASHES AN HONEST-TO-GOD PEACE SIGN for all of America to see. I decided at that moment that Ed Brinkman was the coolest baseball player that didn’t play for my beloved A’s. I know I saw this… I swear it happened. I’d love to have it confirmed. ESPN Classic ran the ’73 All-Star game a while back, but skipped the player intros. Maybe this broadcast exists somewhere in its entirety, perhaps not. I bet I’m not the only person who wishes that the Sabols had been baseball fans, and that MLB treated their film archives with some respect. Shit, I feel an off-topic rant coming on. Time for me to shut up.

  2. I too remember gazing at this card in my youth, wondering, really, this guy is a baseball player? I find the 14 homeruns is an astonishing feat for this bespectacled gent who probably just got through showing the “Highways of Agony” before donning this uniform.

    I seriously find the 14 homers by mr. ed brinkman to me more exciting then the sosa/mcguire chase.

    Looks like Detroit gambled and took the bet that ed would never repeat that output as they unloaded him the next year to STL for CBG Nate Colbert!!!
    He was traded 2 more time that year and called it quits to focus on his drivers ed career 🙂

    More fascinating still was in 1972 he was ninth in the MVP voting just hitting above the mendoza line!!!! WTF??????

    I love the 1973 all star tidbit above.

    It’s been 3 long years since anyone has written about ed. Or mr. brinkman as i would and still feel like calling him. I felt it was time for someone else to recognize his feats. I hope it doesn’t take another 3 years for someone to comment.

    Peace Out Ed. Had I seen you flash the peace sign I too would have thought you were the coolest!

  3. BRINK.
    I find it cool that he used blue magic marker to write BRINK on the bat. Not BRINKMAN, just BRINK.
    Perhaps he yearned for a nickname and self anointed himself BRINK, hoping it would catch on.

    I would have been happy to call him BRINK. Hey BRINK, you crushed 14 homers, hit me a fly ball way back here on what appears to be a concrete fence a mile away in the background.

    It looks like someone is doing windsprints between 2nd and first. The other players appear to have yellow tops. Or it could be my eyes playing tricks on me. I should wear my glasses more often like ed so proudly wears. Could that be Herb Washington doing windsprints? Would the tigers where all white and then a’s yellow and white?

  4. Brinkman played at a time when teams greatly valued steady glove men at short who couldn’t hit worth a damn, i.e. Harrelson, Belanger, Metzger, the early years of Bowa. What a beautiful time to follow MLB. Also, the talk of the’73 All-Star game reminds me of how everyone seemed to love the AS game back when one game could include Seaver, Yaz, Bench, Jackson, Rose, Carlton, Aaron, Mays, Gibson, Morgan, Schmidt, Brett. But my favorite All-star memory was the ’76 game when Kingman came out wearing white spikes. That was cool!

  5. I read on the Ken Brett thread that the his card photo was taken at oakland coliseum. I still see hoover dam/prison like concrete outfields walls.

    Knowing that this photo was taken in Oakland assures me that herb washington is indeed practicing his stealing from 2nd to first exercise.

  6. I read on the Ken Brett thread that the his card photo was taken at oakland coliseum. I still see hoover dam/prison like concrete outfields walls.

    Knowing that this photo was taken in Oakland assures me that herb washington is indeed practicing his stealing from 2nd to first exercise.

  7. This card is the answer to the following trivia question:

    What would Woody Allen have looked like if he had chosen a career as a professional baseball player?

  8. A decade later and this card still fascinates me. I have since learned he had a tremendous arm at short. The best in the league for a time. You had to have herb washington type speed to try and beat out a hit against him……
    I also learned that TED WILLIAMS is responsible for the brief surge in his offensive output. Ted and the vo-ed school board apparently saw the potential in BRINK that we seem to gloss over.

    I am wishing Josh would coax BRINK out of retirement to play in his fantasy league

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